Modelling and Simulation of the Need for Harmonizing the European Higher Education Systems

Modelling and Simulation of the Need for Harmonizing the European Higher Education Systems

Valentina Mihaela Ghinea
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5998-8.ch004
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The “Bologna process” has become a highly used idiom by all kinds of people who do not know what exactly it involves. They are unaware of its prerequisites and the correct way to measure its positive and/or negative consequences. Thus, this chapter explains the context of the Bologna reasoning as well as briefly expressing its content. It explores whether the harmonization of the European Educational Systems proposed and agreed on by nations is a fad or a real necessity, taking into consideration the actual evolution of the world. This is done by means of computerized simulation. The simulation tool is provided by TRUE-WORLD System Dynamics Software. In the end, some recommendations for a more efficient achievement of Bologna objectives are provided.
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In the 1980s-'90s, internationalization was seen as a means of improving quality and not just for serving its own purpose (Wende, 1999). Currently, internationalization, as a general term, especially regarding the higher education system, has suffered considerable changes, becoming one of the major features of the higher education system in the 21st century (Campbell & van der Wende, 2000).

At the international level, it was observed the existence of certain notable deficits regarding the cognitive skills and knowledge of the citizens. The deficits originated not only from the registration and graduation rates of education institutions. To overcome this, there needed to be a series of major structural changes in the educational systems and institutions themselves (Hanushek & Wößmann, 2007).

Initially, these structural changes were thought as balancing measures as a result of the previous expansion and massification decades (Trow, 2001). The latter ones started from the evidence provided by researches arguing that the financial and non-financial wealth of individuals is directly related to their level of education and professional training. Thought in this way, education functioned for individuals as source of substantial benefits in terms of financial and social gains. It led to a progressive and quite difficult to manage expansion not only of the number of students, but also of the diversity within the superior education system (types of institutions, programs offered, students enrolled, personnel recruited, etc). This expansion was transferred into an increasing large variety of students regarding age, gender, geographical origin, ethnicity, socio-economic status, and even scope for achieving the graduation level.

Both the actions of internal pressures (such as international mobility of students and/or marketing of educational systems) and the external ones (such as globalization of professions, regional trade agreements and the activity of international organizations) led to a varied institutional background (Lenn, 1994). This opposed the existence of several legal regulations supporting certain institutional typologies. Governments were compelled to explore new forms of organization, likely to prove more effective within the new framework (Neave & van Vught, 1991; Teixeira, 2009).

In addition, more recent studies proved that the quality of education, measured in terms of students’ performance on cognitive tests, produces substantial gains in the labour market, both for individuals and for society (Altinok, 2007, Wößmann & Schütz, 2006). Consequently, there are measures that are likely to be undertaken with the purpose of decreasing the major differences between the educational systems. The goal was to revive the European Higher Educational Systems (HESs). These measures aim to: a. define, implement and evaluate national and/or institutional strategies concerning quality management; b. improve the activity of the departments specialized in quality management within universities; c. harmonize national and international systems for quality management at the Higher Education level; d. establish a series of quality indicators to be taken into consideration when assessing the Higher Education quality.

In this context, in 1999, the Bologna Declaration was signed with the major objective of creating a European Higher Education Area by 2010. Going into depth, some of the primary objectives of the Bologna Process were to promote transparency, increase the mobility of the citizens, create joint academic programs, create networks for the exchange of information, and provide language teaching, employability and student-centered learning (Bologna Declaration, 1999).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Strategy Alignment: The feature of being align to the overall strategy of the company which is supported in this way.

Simulation: The manipulation of an already existent model, in the sense of imitating the processes or the system operating manner presented by the model along the time. Thus, starting from the general current situation shown by the model, one can continuously interrogate the system by means of expanding/compressing it or forwarding/slowing it down over time.

Modelling: The activity of designing a model, which broadly represents the reality.

Teleology: The doctrine sustaining that there are multiple causes leading towards the same end and there is no single cause and/or explanation for any real life situation.

Complex System: A system whose intricacy impedes the forecasting of its behaviour.

Self-Adjustment Capacity: The recovering and balancing capacity of a system without requiring extensive and/or drastic interventions from outside.

Strategy Coherence: Individual parts of a strategy must be linked to each other to provide mutual support.

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